Rights to sick leave

The sick leave that state and municipal employees are entitled to depends on their years of service and form of employment. Employees hired on indefinite bases have the rights to keep full wages for a certain time according to their years of service.

Rights to sick leave

  • The sick pay rights of public employees

    The sick pay rights of employees with a monthly salary

    Normally, the rights to sick pay are addressed in the 12th chapter of the collective wage agreements between BSRB and the State, The City of Reykjavik, and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities. It states that an employee who is hired on indefinite bases keeps full salary if the sick days don’t extend in 12 months as follows:

    • 0-3 months employment :14 days
    • Next three months: 35 days
    • After 6 months of employment: 119 days
    • After 1 year of employment: 133
    • After 7 years of employment: 175 days
    • After 12 years of employment: 273 days
    • After 18 years of employment: 360 days

    This refers to the calendar days and not working days, that is weekdays or days that fall on shifts.

    The sick pay rights of part-time workers

    Part time employees are entitled to less sick pay rights than those hired on indefinite bases. There sick pay rights are:

    • First month’s employment: 2 days
    • Second months employment: 4 days
    • Third months employment: 6 days
    • After 3 months employment: 14 days
    • After 6 months employment: 30 days

    This also refers to calendar days, not working days.

    Sick payments are entirely based on 12 months retroactive. So, when an employee gets ill, the 12 months are back dated, and the sick days already taken during that period are subtracted

  • Sick pay rights in the private sector

    The rights in the private sector are quite different from the one in the public sector. Like in the public sector most unions have negotiated better terms for its members than the minimum rights that are guranteed by law. The union of postal workers in Iceland have for instance negotiated in the collective agreements better terms for its members. Members of that union get 2 days per month plus premium after one year, four months after five years and six months after ten years.

    Many of the unions affiliated to BSRB negotiate with different institutions and workplaces of the government. In many cases they are built on collective agreements with the state and municipals and therefore have better sick pay rights than in the private market in general.

    Employees should always read through the collective wage agreements when finding out the rights to sick pay, since the rights are not entirely the same under different collective agreements.

  • Notification and medical certificate

    If an employee is unable to attend work because of illness or accident they must notify their employer immediately. The employer then decides whether or not the employee needs to hand in medical certificate to verify the illness. At some workplaces there are certain rules on how and to whom to notify illnesses. When no such rules apply one should notify their manager. The manager can request for a medical certificate whenever he feels so.

    In the collective agreements of public employees it is stated that when an employee is absent from work for five days straight due to an illness that a medical certificate must be handed in. When it can be foreseen that the illness will be a long term ilness exemptions can be made. In the public sector the employee who has been absent because of illness or accident for a month must hand in a certificate of fitness for work before they return.

    The employer is required to reimburse the employee for the cost of medical certificates and visits to doctors or other medical professionals needed to abtain the certificates.

  • Illnesses, accidents and notice of termination

    Employees have the same rights during notice of termination as otherwise and that also includes sick leave rights. If the illness exceeds the term of notice it matters whether the illness occurred before or after the termination.

    If the illness started before the termination the employee has the rights to payments even though the period covered lasts longer the notice period or severance payment.

    If the illness starts after the termination the sick pay right ends when the employment ends. At that point only a final settlement for holiday allowance and time in lieu is needed.

    It an employee has been injured at work or on their way to or from work or if they are absent on work related illness their rights will not be impaired due to termination and will receive full payment.

  • Part time illness

    In the collective agreements of employees of the state and municipals there is a provision for part-time illness. The same goes for many of the state-owned agencies that BSRB negotiates with. This is not a general provision in the private market.

    Employees need permission from the employer to temporary reduce the working hours. This provision is often applied to when an employee returns to work after a long-term illness and then starts with at shorter workday or week for some weeks.

    When an employee is part-time ill they are counted as two different employees, one that gets a proportion of their wages and a second that gets sick pay for the time that they are absent.

  • Termination of employment due to bad health

    In the collective wage agreements, there is a clause on severance payment for public employees, similar provisions are in the Government employees act. The rules state an unchanged pay for three months when released due to long term illness.

  • Children’s illness

    Special provisions are made in the collective wage agreements for the illness of employee’s children. An employee has the right to stay home with their ill children, as long as they are under 13 of age, for 12 working days each calendar year. This right does not impact the sick days rights of the employee.

    If a child under the age of 16 becomes serious ill and needs to be hospitalised the above rights can be used according to the collective wage agreements between affiliated unions of BSRB and the Icelandic associated of local authorities.

  • Support and sickness funds

    Many of the unions affiliate to BSRB have united in Styrktarsjóður BSRB, The BSRB support fund. The unions that manage their own grants are The Union of Icelandic Postal Worker, Police Federation of Iceland and Sameyki, union of public servants.

    The funds pay sickness benefits when member's sick days right at their employment are used up. Members can also apply for support for physical therapy, cancer screening, to buy glasses, gym membership and more. Further information on rights and support can be found at BSRB’s support fund, and the websites of the unions mentioned above.

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